Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gingerbread Latte Cake

There's a restaurant in Santa Monica I used to go to with my mom on our "girls' days" called Cafe Montana. The food was always delicious and memorable, but the one thing I looked forward to more than anything was the molasses cookie. It was heavenly. The flavor of the ginger and the molasses was perfectly balanced, both strong but both clearly noticeable in their own right. The cookie itself was rolled in sugar and had a chewy center texture with an ever-so-slightly crispy edge. It was perfect. The best molasses cookie I've ever tasted (and I've had my fair share). It's one of my favorite cookies, only second to the Jacque Torres chocolate chip cookie, of course. 

So with all that said, you can imagine the pure joy in my soul when I took the first bite of this gingerbread cake and it tasted exactly like that molasses cookie from Cafe Montana (just in cake form). I didn't even have to taste the frosting to determine that this cake was going in my top five list. But then I did taste the frosting with the cake, and the toffee bits, and the salted caramel... and I about fell to the floor in sheer happiness and contentment, because that's what a great cake does to me. I forget about everything else in life, even the need to stand, and just want to think about -and eat- the incredible cake.



This cake comes from The Cake Blog contributor, Tessa Huff. I have made several of her cakes now and I've never been disappointed. In fact, the entire blog is one to write down and return to over and over again. Definitely a trusted source!

I followed the cake recipe exactly, but did change the frosting and added the salted caramel. Tessa's frosting is a meringue buttercream, and can be found here. Since I'm not a huge fan of meringue buttercream, I altered the frosting to be a regular buttercream. I also didn't have espresso powder on hand, so I used instant coffee granules and had to increase the amount to get a rich "latte" flavor. If you don't want to use espresso powder or coffee granules, you can also use imitation coffee flavoring. If you absolutely hate the taste of coffee, this cake would also pair great with a salted caramel frosting.

Next time I think I'll put even more salted caramel on top. You can never really have enough of caramel, right?

Also, I found the cookie sticks and caramel waffle cookies at Trader Joes, and this beautiful serving platter from Target. Score!



Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!


Gingerbread Latte Cake (recipe source: Tessa Huff, The Cake Blog, 2013)

Yield: one 6-inch, 3-layer cake

Ingredients:

For the Gingerbread Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 1/4 cups milk

For the Latte Frosting
2 cups unsalted butter
2 tbsp. instant coffee granules* 
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Generous pinch of salt

For the Salted Caramel
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Garnish
Hershey's Toffee Bits


Instructions:

For the Gingerbread Cake
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 6-inch pans and set aside. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
2. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add in the brown sugar and cream together on medium speed.
4. On medium-low, gradually add in the eggs and molasses until incorporated.
5. Add in the grated ginger.
6. Alternating between dry and wet, add in the flour mixture and the milk in three additions on low speed.
7. Once mixed, place the batter into the prepared pans.
8. Bake 35-40 minutes, checking around 30 minutes. (Alternately, you could also use three 8-inch pans and cook for 25-30 minutes.)
9. Cool on a wire rack before de-panning.

For the Latte Frosting
1. Dissolve the instant coffee granules in the water. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter on medium-high for 3-5 minutes. Gradually add in the coffee or coffee flavoring and the vanilla and beat for another two minutes.
3. On low speed, add the confectioners' sugar and salt. Once the sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

*I use the decaf instant coffee in individual packets.  You can also use imitation coffee flavoring, and omit the water.

For the Salted Caramel
1. Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan.
2. Bring the water and sugar mixture to boil over medium heat, but DO NOT STIR. (Stirring encourages crystallization). Let the mixture cook until it caramelizes into a golden brown color. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
3. Remove the caramelized sugar syrup from the heat and slowly mix in the cream. Pour in just a tiny bit at a time, especially at the beginning, and mix to combine. You can start adding more and more as you go along.
4. Mix in salt, lemon juice or vinegar and vanilla. Stir to combine.
5. Let cool completely before pouring on top of the cake.

3 comments:

  1. I just made the cake part so far, and it took my oven almost 40 minutes to cook them- And I'm still not sure if I'd consider them completely done done, but they were so browned I got nervous and didn't want the top to burn. Do you have any thoughts as to why this might have been the case?

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Cooking time definitely depends on your oven. 40 minutes doesn't sound out of the ordinary for this cake, though. I've been making this cake quite often for orders and have found myself cooking it more to 35-40 minutes as well. In fact, I'm going to alter the directions a bit. The other thing you could do is divide the cake into four 6-inch cake rounds or even try three 8-inch and keep the cooking time at 30, checking at 20-25 minutes with a toothpick.

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